The transcripts of the official inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press. More…

  • MR MARK LEWIS (recalled) (on former oath).

  • I'm sorry you had to come back, but I'm sure you understand why.

  • Mr Lewis you provided the Inquiry with a second witness statement. Are you familiar with the contents of the statement?

  • I am familiar with it.

  • Are they true and correct to the best of your knowledge and belief?

  • The statement is true.

  • We'll take the witness statement as read and I'll ask just a few questions arising from it. You tell us that you attended a police station on 4 November of this year and you were there shown a video which you were told was taken by a private investigator, Mr Derek Webb; is that right?

  • That's partly correct. I don't think they actually told me who the person who took the video was. They just showed me the video.

  • Is it right that you don't know who took the video?

  • It's subsequently been said to be Derek Webb and I've seen the documents, but at the time the police gave me the documents and had already shown me the video and the documents refer to the video.

  • I see. The video, you tell us, shows footage of your ex-wife and one of your daughters, who was then aged 14?

  • Could you describe to the Inquiry your reaction when you were shown that video?

  • That was horrific. That was truly horrific, that my daughter was videoed, was followed by a detective with a camera. I mean, just followed. That shouldn't happen to anybody's child. I mean, obviously there's worse things -- I acted for the Dowler family, so I can't really compare one thing with the other, but, you know, I do my job. I don't expect my children to be followed.

    Actually, it's much wider because it was one of my daughters, but all my daughters -- I have four daughters -- they all said, "Does that mean someone was watching our house?" And the fact is that video, until it was handed to the police, was sat in the offices at Wapping at News International. They had it. They ought to be ashamed of themselves. It was horrific. It was a horrific moment to be shown that. I didn't know what I was going to see. I went to the police station reasonably calm, but I didn't expect -- I didn't expect to see that. They had no right to do that.

  • Mr Lewis, can you tell me this. Can you tell me, from what you saw or what was evident on the tape, when it was taken?

  • It was taken about April/May 2010, when my youngest daughter was 14.

  • You were also shown a report which was produced by a private investigator's agency called Tectrix, weren't you?

  • And that was a report which had been commissioned by a solicitor, Mr Julian Pike of Farrer & Co, who was acting for News Group Limited?

  • We won't go into the contents of that report for reasons of your privacy and the privacy of other persons, but it's right, isn't it, that the purpose of the report seems to have been to investigate aspects of your private life?

  • News International sought to destroy my life, and very nearly succeeded. I mean, the whole thing, when you look at these documents, is the interaction between a journalist who is doing a report for whatever reason, because the journalist -- it's another report but there was a comparison of notes between Farrer & Co, and Julian Pike of Farrer & Co was being told by Tom Crone, the in-house counsel, to compare notes.

  • We're going to come to the detail and to look at some of the documents in a moment, and perhaps if we can start that journey through your exhibits by looking at the document which following the pagination at the bottom right-hand corner -- it's been paginated more than once -- I'm looking at page 15 and it's a document which is headed "Report on Lewis and Harris investigation, May 2010". Might I ask that the technician display this document on the projector, please. This document was created by Julian Pike on 5 September 2011, according to the face of the document, wasn't it?

  • According to the document, yes.

  • And if we look at paragraph 1, at the top of the page, which is under the subheading "Background", it appears to set out something of the perception on the News Group News side about you, and in particular it says -- I'm looking now four lines down:

    "It was pretty clear to us that the source of the Guardian's information was almost certainly Mark Lewis, Taylor's lawyer, despite the strict confidential terms of the Taylor settlement agreement."

    Could I just ask you: did you leak any protected information to the Guardian newspaper?

  • I was not the source of that story, never gave information out. It was complete arrogance and idiocy by Julian Pike at Farrers and Tom Crone. They were so busy navel gazing that they hadn't realised that there were so many possible sources of this story and that the story itself was open, the court file was open for anyone to look at before it was closed. And because they were so arrogant and so stupid, they didn't bother to look at that, they just set out to ruin my life.

  • Might we look at paragraph 2, please. At the top of paragraph 2 it says:

    "Also on 9 July 2009, Lewis went on Newsnight and confirmed he was acting for Clifford."

    That's a reference to Max Clifford, isn't it?

  • On 9 July 2009 were you acting for Max Clifford?

  • On 9 July 2009 I was away. I wasn't on Newsnight or anything. They've got the dates wrong in this report. There is so much that is wrong with what they're doing. I was away at the time. This story had broken in the Guardian. I was notified about it by Julian Pike, who telephoned me on my mobile phone to say that the information about the Taylor settlement had got out. It was as soon as I got off the plane and turned my phone on --

  • This is the conversation you told us about last week.

  • -- he told me about that. I was away. I didn't come back until the next day -- until the Saturday. I think that was a Thursday, 9 July. I came back -- it would have been a Thursday because the flight's only on a Monday and Thursday. I landed at the airport on Thursday. I travelled further on. On the Friday, I started to return, on the Saturday I returned to the country, so I couldn't have been on Newsnight on the 9th. I think Max Clifford was on Newsnight on the 9th.

  • Perhaps I can put it this way. The suspicion appears to have been that you were asserting that you were representing Max Clifford when you weren't. Did you ever make such an assertion?

  • Yes, I did, but in context I came back on the Saturday. On the Sunday, I went to see Max Clifford. I went with Charlotte Harris, who is at another law firm, JMW. I was at George Davies at that time. It was to be dealt with and Max Clifford appeared to have agreed to that as a joint instruction because we'd worked together on the previous phone hacking cases for Taylor, et cetera, and worked well as a team. And so I was being instructed on that. The whole thing then went ballistic in terms of my -- or devastating in terms of my career, that I --

  • In ways you described last week?

  • This report talks about this being very good for my career, or one of the reports talks about this being very good for my career. If my income, if I can put, went down to less than 3 per cent of what it had been before, if that can be described as being very good for my career, then it was very good for my career, but I'd rather have the other 97 per cent back.

  • That's a very clear answer. Could we have the next page, page 16, on the screen, please, and the bottom half of the page. I'd like to take you, please, Mr Lewis to paragraph 8, and here we see something of the News Group News motive. It says:

    "On 26 March 2010, we advised Crone that News Group News should look again at preventing JMW and Stripes from acting. This was driven by the view that Lewis and Harris were deeply untrustworthy and the potential cost savings Crone had anticipated had not materialised in Clifford. News Group News was advised to instruct specialist counsel on whether steps could be taken to prevent them from acting."

    So it appears from this, doesn't it, that there was a decided attempt to try and oust you from acting in phone interception cases?

  • Absolutely. It was an intentional tactic to attack me. Look, I take it as a huge compliment that I had the News of the World and Tom Crone and Julian Pike calling me untrustworthy. I'd count my fingers if they thought I was trustworthy.

  • Can I just ask you about that? I'll put it to you squarely. Did you do anything which might have given them reason to consider you untrustworthy?

  • No, not at all. It was on the contrary. What was happening around that time is I'd been instructed by someone to pursue a claim, and in order to attack me and attack my client, I was acting for somebody called -- it's on public record -- I'm acting for Nicola Phillips, who was Max Clifford's assistant. They assumed, wrongly, that there had been some sort of provision of information, confidential information. They were too stupid to realise that there had been statements in open court naming Nicola Phillips that had been given to Nicola Phillips by a journalist who -- and Nicola Phillips had then contacted me to act. They just missed the point. These were such obvious points for them and they were too stupid to work it out.

  • If we can go to the next paragraph, please, Mr Lewis:

    "On 5 May 2010 we were instructed by Crone to instruct private investigators to look into ..." then we've had to redact the next section "and investigations firm Tectrix, which had been used on a number of previous occasions by this firm, were instructed to carry out electronic searches."

    That was the report we touched on a little earlier. Could we have the next page, please?

  • Tom Crone is on record as having said he didn't investigate me or authorise investigations. I think one has to remember that because quite clearly black and white suggests otherwise.

  • We move now to the final page of this document, which is now up on the screen. We see in paragraph 10 it recorded that Mr Crone instructed Farrer & Co to instruct specialist counsel on professional duties and obligations. In a moment I'm going to take you to the note of that consultation, but sticking with this document and following this summary, we see at the end of the document at paragraph 13 that following the consultation and some follow-up advice from Farrers, that no further investigations into you and Charlotte Harris were carried out by Farrers or on its instructions after 18 May, looking back to paragraph 12 to get that date. And they assert that at no stage has Farrers been involved in any investigations into Mark Thomson, who the Inquiry also heard from last week.

    Can we now turn to the consultation record to see how that conclusion came about? It's at page 7 of the bundle, and could we have that on the screen, please? Could we start with the heading at the top, please? Thank you. We see that the client was News Group Newspapers Limited. The date was 13 May 2010. And the matters are listed on the top left.

    We see underneath the line in bold text it says:

    "JCP and RXC --"

    Do you understand that to be Julian Pike and --

  • If I go through these attendance notes, I'm not sure that the client, although the client is shown as News Group Newspapers, the last one, which is Kelly Hoppen, has a different reference number, so I suspect there's a second client from that. The first ones are News Group Newspaper claims. I don't think the Kelly Hoppen is on the same client basis.

  • Do you know who --

  • RXC is Rowena Cordery. The chances are that she doesn't have a middle name and that's why solicitors often use X as a middle initial because I'm sometimes MXL if there is another ML.

  • Thank you. I see my learned friend Mr Sherborne about to rise to his seat.

  • I was just rising to correct something Mr Lewis was saying because he wouldn't know it. Kelly Hoppen had a claim but it was originally brought in the Queen's Bench Division against a number of other individuals. It also then included Mr Mulcaire and News Group and was transferred to the Chancery Division to be dealt with with the other claims, and that's why it has a slightly different reference number.

  • Thank you very much. I don't actually think it matters. It's obviously relating to this whole investigation that's being undertaken. So the names on the matter may not take us very much further.

    So it's Mr Pike and this other lady meeting Queen's Counsel at chambers to discuss the professional conduct issues. Right.

  • We're going to hear from Ms Harris in due course so I don't need to dwell in any detail on the first page. Suffice perhaps to take us to the very last paragraph on the first page where we see leading counsel's advice was that he said that the case against Harris and Reed was "hopeless". He asked what the position was with Gordon Taylor and if he could be persuaded to take action against you.

  • Phenomenal. Actually phenomenal that leading counsel could find it on his own behalf to suggest that News Group Newspapers ought to persuade one of my clients, someone I had acted for, someone I'd got a lot of money for, to sue me even though he hadn't threatened to sue me, had no wish to sue me, as far as I know, and didn't sue me, and yet he's suggesting -- he suggests a lot of things that he really ought not to have done. I'm flabbergasted.

  • Can we go over the page and have on the screen page 8. I'm interested in the section about a third of the way down. This is in a section under the heading "Background Mark Lewis/Gordon Taylor". The third paragraph down says:

    "JCP said Taylor does not want the details of his claim regarding News Group to come up. Not even his wife knew that he did the deal."

    Then if I skip to the last four lines, it says:

    "Brabners [that's Mr Taylor's solicitors] then investigated the matter with a view to bringing a claim against George Davies ..."

    And they were the partnership that you were a member of?

  • "... and conduct proceedings against Mark Lewis."

    And you told us about those last week.

    "JCP has been told previously that a complaint had been formally made by Gordon Taylor against Lewis and there was some complaint with the SRA."

  • Can I just deal with that in case I didn't make it clear? The complaint that he made against me, Gordon Taylor, was nothing to do with any leak or anything. It was to do with he said that he had agreed with me that I wouldn't act for anybody else, so that I was wrong to take the instructions to act for Joanne Armstrong. It had escaped him that I'd acted for Joanne Armstrong before I'd acted for him. It was nonsense.

    Likewise the advice about a waiver to Charlotte Harris and Jeremy Reed. There's also been a waiver to me because I'd dealt with three claims. Farrers had objected and maybe Gregory Treverton-Jones QC hadn't been told that in his instructions, but I'd acted for two second and third claimants against News Group beforehand and they'd agreed to that. They'd raised the issue at that time and then waived it.

    This had nothing to do with professional conduct. This had everything to do with trying to stop me, trying to stop Jeremy Reed, trying to stop Charlotte Harris from acting against them because they'd been caught for doing what they'd done.

  • You made very clear that their complaint was dismissed. Might I suggest though that what this paragraph seems to indicate is a degree of liaison between those acting for Mr Taylor and those acting for News Group News?

  • Oh, absolutely. There was some liaison and co-operation between Gordon Taylor and his solicitors and News Group. It's an oddity, really, that you have a union chief executive who's supposed to represent his members, seems to be more concerned at protecting a newspaper that's attacking his members and he basically allowed them to carry on being attacked by doing what he was doing. I understand he hadn't told his wife about the settlement, but that's really a matter for him to deal with on a domestic level, but he is a union chief executive who ought to have represented his members.

  • If we turn now to page 10 following the internal pagination, I want to pick up on the advice that was given about a potential claim against you. Looking now at the first paragraph underneath the numbered paragraphs:

    "Gregory said that we would need to develop a body of evidence against him."

    That's referring to you, isn't it?

    "Insofar as wanting to get a court order to stop him from acting, this would be virgin legal territory."

  • But there were two parts to that, because apart from it being virgin legal territory, so there was no legal authority for doing it, he had to develop a body of evidence because the evidence that he had didn't support the case anyway.

    So apart from the facts being against him and apart from the law being against him, it was a wonderful case. For another client.

  • We'll certainly come to the overall assessment in a moment. Taking you to the next paragraph, four lines at the bottom of that, here we go to the facts:

    "Gregory said we would need very strong evidence that Lewis simply cannot be trusted to abide by confidentiality obligations. Tactically, Gregory said it would be better if the running of the case were to be made by Gordon Taylor rather than the Murdoch press."

    I'm going to come in a moment over the page to the assessment of where they were with the evidence, but before we do that and whilst still on page 10, can we pick up on the paragraph four paragraphs from the bottom? It begins "JCP said that ...".

    The last sentence perhaps puts quite graphically what the key objective seems to have been. It reads:

    "The key interest is to keep Lewis/Harris out of these cases to reduce the negative publicity."

    Is that your understanding from having read all the documents of what the motive seems to have been?

  • Of course, I mean the previous paragraph, the final sentence, appears to be to cause embarrassment and then use this in other cases against NGN, and then -- that was the context of it. And then say the key interest is to stop me, to stop me, to stop Charlotte Harris, to keep us out of these cases, to reduce ... outrageous.

  • What they're saying is that you're trying to use the Guardian to cause embarrassment, isn't it?

  • That's what they're saying. So they're saying they want to stop you doing it.

  • Well, to keep me -- stop me from acting.

  • If we go to page 12, and starting at the top of the page, the first sentence reads:

    "Gregory said that in respect of Lewis, his advice was that he did not think there was enough evidence yet to persuade the court to stop him from acting."

    So as you said a moment ago, they had problems with both the law and the facts.

  • Apart from that, it was a great case.

  • Can we go now to the third paragraph from the bottom of that page. There's a short paragraph which reads:

    "Gregory said that with regard to the other evidence, Gordon Taylor is the person with the greatest right and interest to bring the case. We could try and persuade him to bring a claim."

    So there we have the advice being given that it might be better to try and persuade Mr Taylor to do it.

    If we go over to page 13, at the top of that page it says:

    "JCP said he did not have instructions but he could see that Gordon Taylor might think he could not be bothered. If we say to him -- you are in a better position to make a complaint and NGN will contribute to funding your representation of this -- it might well assist him. It might make Taylor more persuadable."

    So it seems, doesn't it, that there was a willingness to encourage Mr Taylor by assisting him with costs?

  • News Group Newspapers wanted to pay for a client to sue me, even though the client hadn't proposed to sue me.

  • Could we now go to the letter which is at page 18 of the bundle.

  • Can I just deal with one point out of that conference?

  • Leading counsel said that I was a wide boy, that he'd met me. He'd never met me. I've never spoken to him. There are other Mark Lewises in the profession so it's possible that one of them might be a wide boy, but I do think it's out of order for him to express an opinion about me without having met me or discussed it. This is a man who's written the guide to the professional conduct for my profession. It seems he hasn't read it, but he really ought to know that if he's going to say something, he should back it up with a fact, and really, he ought to apologise to me for expressing an opinion because he had no right to do that.

  • I think that's a matter which is in your witness statement, isn't it?

  • Looking at page 18, now, of the bundle, it's a letter from 7 September 2011 from Farrers to Linklaters. The part of the letter I'd like to take you to is on the next page, page 19. It's paragraph 5. It says -- and this is essentially a paragraph in which Farrers are explaining in 2011 their take on events in 2010 which we've just looked at. It says:

    "The reason for this inquiry stemmed from the suspicion that Mr Lewis and Ms Harris were exchanging highly confidential information gained from acting for claimants (and Mr Taylor in particular) in cases against NGN in order to bring further actions against NGN by other potential claimants. While in hindsight the relevance of the results of such enquiries may be open to challenge, we are satisfied that there were legitimate concerns: apart from the issue regarding the possible exchange of confidential information, it was known that Mr Taylor was sufficiently concerned about the conduct of his previous law firm and Mr Lewis that he had instructed new solicitors to make a complaint to the SRA."

    What I'd like to do is ask you for your reaction to that justification.

  • I think firstly that that is an ex post facto justification in 2011 to explain why the rules had been broken, because there was no probative value whatsoever in the inquiry that was being made by them. They were looking into my private life in a way that had no relevance whatsoever. It's impossible to think of any relevance that could be determined from one answer or another to what they were looking at as to whether or not there had been an exchange of information, of confidential information between Charlotte Harris and me. The sad thing is if they'd have bothered to look at the court records and things that were said in the open court, they would have realised that they were wasting their money anyway, making enquiries, but they did.

    And when you looked earlier, when you talked about two different reports, the Tectrix report commissioned by Farrers and the other report instigated by a journalist, you have the in-house lawyer Tom Crone knowing full well that the journalist had commissioned surveillance, Farrers saying that -- Julian Pike at Farrers saying that they don't need to get surveillance because they've sort of already got it, and then Julian Pike speaking to the journalist to compare notes about this.

    Now, ordinarily, a good, honest, proper solicitor, when told that such and such, a client -- see, one has -- the journalist involved is someone who was involved in the hacking of a phone of a client of mine that I was acting for, Nicola Phillips. His name is on various documents. When a witness was looking at the lives of the lawyer acting against him, then you would have thought that a firm of solicitors, not least Farrer & Co, and not least a barrister, Tom Crone, would turn around to the journalist and say, "No, you mustn't do that, you're tampering with evidence here, you're into very risky territory". Instead of doing that, they joined in and wanted to compare notes between their own report and what he'd obtained. Diabolical.

  • The final document that I would like to take you to, Mr Lewis, is the one right at the start of the exhibit at page 1. As Mr Davies rightly pointed out earlier, we have to keep in mind the fact that we don't at this stage know who produced this document.

  • I'm tempted to say it was from the Star, but it was nothing -- it really isn't from the Star so don't suggest that, but it has so many factual inaccuracies --

  • Be extremely careful what you say. I recognise that you have absolute privilege, but I am absolutely concerned not to prejudice any potential investigation --

  • No, I -- sorry, sir, I wasn't suggesting that it was. It was just that because there are so many factual inaccuracies --

  • Well, cracking jokes is a mistake, too.

  • As I tried to explain to Mr McMullan yesterday.

  • The first point that I'd like to take you to in this report is on the first page. Could we go to the bottom of the page, please. There's a summary about the lawyers. It says, first sentence:

    "The phone hacking story has been propagated most effectively not by the police or journalists but by civil lawyers."

    And then picking up the last three lines of that same paragraph:

    "It is the lawyers and the information they uncovered through the civil actions they helped bring which ensured phone hacking became such a damaging scandal for News International."

    Reading on into the next paragraph:

    "At the heart of this have been three solicitors: Mark Lewis, Charlotte Harris and Mark Thomson."

    It then goes on to name others before returning to you at the end of the paragraph and reading:

    "These are the three who have driven the process."

    So whoever wrote this document seemed to think that you were one of the three solicitors who was having perhaps the most impact.

  • Maybe. It may be said they thought that. I think there obviously were other people who were very much involved.

  • If we go now to page 5, please --

  • Top of the page, page 5, under the heading "News of the World strategy", to put this in context, it's right to say, isn't it, that one description of this document is it's a dossier about you and Charlotte Harris and Mark Thomson?

  • And it says under this heading, "News of the World strategy":

    "The News of the World is aware of these facts and is planning to try to put pressure back on the solicitors by revealing these facts and by linking their political affiliations and career benefits from the cases. They plan to do this publicly and through discrete lobbying."

  • Can I just make some points on the pages that you've been through?

  • There are things that they have suggested about me that are just wrong as a factual basis, so the facts that they were planning to rely on, the fact that I have a chip on my shoulder because I went to a secondary modern; I didn't go to a secondary modern, I went to a private school, which sort of ruins the story, albeit it's a better story in some respects, but it's just not true. And certain of the issues that they've -- that my political affiliations; I've not been affiliated to any political party at that time. I am a classic floating voter/non-voter. I have a strong interest in politics, but I don't always vote for the same party, whatever.

    So it was almost interesting to read about me. I mean, that's why -- there is a grain of truth in this story that whoever's prepared this dossier has bothered to do some research, because my school was a grammar school before it became a fee-paying school the year before I went, so somebody knew that there had been a change of status in my school, so someone had done some research in trying to find the story, but they found the wrong story.

  • So would it appear that what we have is a document suggesting that personal details which have been dug up are to be used against you and your fellow solicitors and, you would say, not only that but the details were very largely wrong?

  • Certainly. Maybe the strategy was correct, but the facts that it was based upon were just wrong.

  • Can I move now to a completely separate matter, and this is a matter I've been asked to raise with you by another core participant. It concerns the settlement of the Dowlers' case and in particular the costs involved in that case. Can you recall approximately the date of the settlement with News International?

  • I can't remember the exact date. I can tell you the circumstances of the deal, because it -- one presumes that this must be -- there was an article, as I alluded to last time, that went on a website from Associated through Daily Mail who said I was holding out for more, and in fact the case had -- the Dowler case had been settled much earlier than that.

    What had happened was that the negotiations that we'd put forward, the Dowler family did not want damages, and I understand why, in respect of Milly. They wanted a charitable donation in respect of Milly, because it would be wrong to profit in any way, to inherit money from the daughter who'd been murdered.

    There were negotiations that took place that Rupert Murdoch wanted to create a Rupert Murdoch fund for children to go to private schools, and the Dowler family wanted the donation from him to go to funds and charities which were to do with Milly's disappearance or Milly's life, so it was like the swimming pool that she favoured, charities for missing people, and charities for cancer research and brain tumour research because her godfather had died as a young man from a brain tumour.

    The negotiations had started with an offer of £1.5 million which had been no charitable donation at all and just 1.5 million --

  • Is it appropriate for you to be revealing this, Mr Lewis?

  • The whole settle -- I have a difficulty because the whole settlement is -- I can see the press will say that he wouldn't talk about what had happened --

  • Yes, I'm just considering about the privilege you owe -- the confidentiality you owe the Dowlers. I'm not stopping you, I'm raising the question so that you can think about it before you go on. It may be, you see, that this detail is not central to what I have to think about, and I'm just concerned that you think about your professional obligation. That's all. It's up to you.

  • I'd rather not discuss the negotiations, save that the total sum has been put forward. There wasn't any -- you know, I've been asked about the costs negotiations. There wasn't a costs negotiation with the newspaper. There was a global sum that was paid, et cetera, that that's how --

  • Mr Lewis, if there's any doubt about this, I don't want you to say any more about the facts of that case. I think the point to do with CFAs is to give the Inquiry some indication of the sorts of sums that might be involved, and I can do that by asking you quite separate questions.

    Could you give us some idea of what a partner in a media law firm charges by way of hourly rate?

  • Well, my hourly rate is £390 an hour. However, the idea that you get that on a CFA is -- you only find out what you're getting at the end.

    So if you take, for example, the NMT and Wilmshurst case where I acted on a CFA, gave two years of my life to doing that probably 70 or 80 per cent of the time, I think I earned about £25,000 a year from doing that case because it was more important and bigger to defend a cardiologist who was being sued by a libel bully(?), to act for the defendants of -- who were being sued by Sheffield Wednesday over what they'd blogged on a website. Again I had to stand up.

    I mean, I can hand on heart say that one would earn more money in private practice being paid privately for doing work, and what one has to understand when looking at CFAs is that every lawyer, not just me, you get lots of people who phone up and ask for advice free of charge about all sorts of pursuing cases and we can't charge for them and we take on cases that we are allowed an uplift on, which sort of balances out over a year to compensate us.

    It's fair to say that lawyers are better paid than nurses and other people. There might be a reason that we are and it might be that there's also a problem with the system, but the fact is, if you talk about the Dowlers, again you have Sally Dowler who came in to me and at the first meeting said, "We cannot afford a lawyer", and I -- I mean, I have a record of saying to people, "I'll act for you anyway" because that's just what I do because sometimes you have to do that, but I can't -- I can't insure you if you lose the case and have to pay the other side.

    Nobody knew at the time how it was going to end up. We did not know that the News of the World was going to end up closing down and there would be massive negotiations. For all we know, there could have been a total defence of the claim, et cetera, and they could have lost the claim, they could have pursued a claim and News of the World could have taken an issue saying, "Well, Milly Dowler does not have a claim at all because she's dead and therefore has no right of privacy". It's a legal argument.

    Fortunately, thankfully, people on the other side had the good grace not to run that argument. But it's the sort of thing that you just don't know what's going to come forward. You don't know that -- and the fact that the Dowler family themselves, Bob and Sally and Gemma Dowler have claims, the claim is still based on an inference. You have Glenn Mulcaire making notes of their numbers, et cetera, but there's no actual evidence to show a real call or that something that was taken from that call was used. You have to establish the inferences and be able to present the case.

    In fact there's not been a judicial decision yet on any phone hacking claim to say that -- possibly Sienna Miller there was an admission because of the way that proceeded, and I think there might have been --

  • Could I just attempt to summarise? You can tell me if I'm being fair to you here. Are you trying to say that any solicitor who takes on a CFA is taking a risk with costs?

  • There is always a risk, no matter how good the case is, and you do not know how you're going to get paid or what you're going to get paid until the end of the case. You have to win, and even when you win you don't know what hourly rate a court is going to -- if you read the newspapers, the newspapers suggest that you get a CFA and it's a licence to print money, but actually you only get paid if you win.

    So the newspaper could, if they so wished, either not defame or throw their hand in early or choose to fight, and then if they lose, oddly enough, I think the Telegraph uses CFAs, but other newspapers pay lawyers to fight their cases. If they didn't do that, the uplift on cases would be reduced, the amount extra that you charge which is awarded by a court follows the further on that you go, but sometimes you could waste a lot of time pursuing a case and not get paid at all.

  • And a final question: are you effectively saying to us that the CFA system involves a certain amount of swings and roundabouts?

  • There is a certain amount of that. Every lawyer will tell you they've lost cases or spent time in pursuing CFA cases that got nowhere and got no payment for them, including the ones that you win on and find that the other side can't afford to necessarily pay you. There might be a better system, but at the moment there isn't any other system that applies. There's no legal aid that people can use to pursue claims.

    So what you have is effectively a CFA that balances the position because whether you're defending a claim or defending your right by pursuing a claim, you can afford a lawyer to pursue that and actually that's likely to be outlawed effectively because there's an abolition being proposed of the recovery of insurance premiums. So if I'd said to a client, look, if you don't -- if you want to pursue this claim you can do, but your insurance premium is going to be substantial, that's an insurance premium that has nothing to do with lawyers, lawyers don't work out what the premium is and that premium is going to be in excess of the damages awarded in most libel cases, most privacy cases, the people -- if you saw me as a client and said you might win £25,000 or £30,000 in your libel claim or your privacy claim, either way, you're going to have to pay for an insurance policy which could be £50,000, but at least you won't have to -- so you'll clear your reputation or your privacy will be protected, but by the way, you'll only lose £20,000. People wouldn't bother to do that. It's all actual access to justice. It's nothing else.

  • I think we're moving slightly away from where I am, because the one thing that I can't do is affect what is presently going through Parliament.

  • Yes, sir. Simply they give me a soap box to stand on so I stood on it.

  • I didn't stop you immediately, but now I'll ask you to stand off it. Is there anything else?

  • Mr Lewis, thank you very much. And I didn't stop you.